Imee: Ph Faces Coronavirus Risk As Chinese New Year Nears

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The influx of Chinese vacationers celebrating the Lunar New Year this weekend may spread a new strain of pneumonia-causing virus in the Philippines, Senator Imee Marcos said.

Marcos added that lax immigration procedures for Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) also increased the country’s health risk to the virus that Chinese officials have traced to an animal and seafood market in Wuhan, the capital of the central mainland province of Hubei.

Although the World Health Organization (WHO) said that human-to-human transmission of the new virus remains inconclusive, Marcos said that preventive measures in the country’s international airports and seaports will minimize the risk of spreading the virus, particularly in Manila, Kalibo, Cebu and Davao which have direct travel links with China.

Besides health scans at ports of entry, standard operation procedures for a possible quarantine of infected persons should already be put in place by the Department of Health and airport authorities, just in case WHO announces an epidemic, Marcos said.

“Ganyan kasi nangyari sa atin sa HIV. Nagulat na lang tayo na biglang exponential na ang increase dahil hindi tayo naging maagap. Sa Pilipinas ang may pinakamabilis na paglaganap ng sakit sa buong Southeast Asia,” Marcos warned.

“Dapat maging alerto at magpatupad ng precautionary measure ang Department of Health, Manila International Airport Authority at iba pang ahensya ng gobyerno para di makalusot ang Coronavirus na maaaring manggaling sa China, Thailand, o Japan”, Marcos said.

Chinese health authorities have already reported four deaths caused by the virus and more than 200 cases of infection have been recorded in the mainland, with a few cases detected in Thailand and Japan, but the UK estimates that the actual number could reach about 1,700 globally.